Pip R. Lagenta|
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Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
|BASFA Trashes Its Future
I was going to blow off Monday’s BASFA meeting and get some well-needed sleep. However, it looked as if I had set a fire, and I wanted to see how it burned. I was mightily disappointed.
BASFA has grown into a powerhouse of fannish activity. In my opinion, BASFA’s fannish output and potential influence rival those of NESFA and LASFS. Two of the five people nominated for this year’s "Best Fan Writer" Hugo Award attend BASFA regularly. BASFA’s membership includes sercon SMOFs and con-runners experienced in running both large and small science fiction conventions in addition to the bloggers of many stripes, fans, and just plane Joes.
Meeting in the back-rooms of pizza parlors was fine when the BASFA was a little, up-start, nothing of a club, but those days are over. With power and influence should come maturity. Maturity is needed to plan for the future, so as to arrange things to get what you need, even if it takes time to get what you need. Is BASFA mature enough to plan ahead, and work for a long term goal? Acquiring clubhouse property could take twenty years. Is BASFA up for that?
It was about three years ago when I put forth the proposition that the BASFA should forego the "party jar" and start building toward the purchase of a clubhouse. The "party jar is a manifestation of the grossest of short term gratification. It is the BASFA version of Crack. It is "take our money and blow it on a party" incarnate. My proposal that BASFA give up the "party jar" was met with wild hostility. The hostility was irrational and relentless. I had to leave BASFA until the anger blew over. I did not come back to BASFA for two years.
I will not make that mistake again.
I vote against establishing the "party jar" each week, but I don’t rail against it, and I don’t mention a clubhouse. Still, I suspected that some of the more level-headed of BASFA’s SMOFs might be open to the prospect of working the BIG PROJECT that is attaining clubhouse property. But how do I broach the subject? It can’t be done at a BASFA meeting lest the old hostility be unleashed again.
Cheryl Morgan seems to be a level-headed BASFA SMOF. I like Cheryl quite a bit. I read and enjoy her blog everyday. Over at her blog, Cheryl has a feature in which she challenges her readers to ask her questions that she can write essays in answer to. On the spur of the moment, I used that feature to ask Cheryl if she thought BASFA would be open to the idea of taking on the monumental task of attaining its own clubhouse. In the brief response notifying me that she accepted the challenge of writing an essay on this subject, Cheryl wrote "Oh, Pip, you have no idea what you have just unleashed." Had I unleashed something more than just the writing of an essay? It sounded that way to me. Was Cheryl going to propose something daring? Something big? Something like actually going after that BASFA clubhouse property? It sounded that way to me.
I could not have been more wrong.
It would be very daring to try to buck the hedonistic "I want to spend all our money now" philosophy of the BASFA that blocks, in perpetuity, the acquisition of BASFA clubhouse property. I was too badly burned on my first attempt at bucking BASFA’s hedonism to ever try again. But Cheryl is such a real power in fandom, that, if she wanted to, she could succeed where I failed. Sadly, she does not want to.
I went to the BASFA meeting Monday night thinking that I had started a fire. But the fire was all in my head.
Cheryl brought up the subject of getting BASFA its own clubhouse, and the club scoffed. Cheryl scoffed along with them. Various club members trotted out the old canards and falsehoods by way of explaining why BASFA could never have its own clubhouse: Only Bruce Pelz could get us a clubhouse, and Bruce Pelz is dead; property in the Bay Area is too expensive; we can only get a clubhouse if a rich person gifted us with a clubhouse, but there are no rich people who are so inclined; only a scheme such as selling land plots on the Moon could get us a clubhouse, and no such schemes are available to us; only a single wildly successful WorldCon could get us the money to buy a clubhouse, but WorldCons aren’t that successful any more. Blaaa... Blaaa... Blaaa!
I listened to this foolishness, and I kept my mouth shut.
Today, I got a chance to give a careful read to the essay that Cheryl wrote in answer to my question. It is a long essay. It belittles and ridicules the concept of attempting the task of acquiring a clubhouse. So, no, BASFA is still not ready to start that task. BASFA’s maturity is an illusion. BASFA is not disposed to do what NESFA, LASFS, BSFS and
[SFSFS] have already done.
In belittling and ridiculing the clubhouse concept in her essay, Cheryl wrote quite a bit of fiction. However, she included some points that I believe to be facts. Some of these facts, I did not previously know. At one point Cheryl writes "BASFA has, as Pip probably knows, always had a Building Fund." No, I did not know that. In fact, when I made the mistake of bringing this subject up the first time around, I could have sworn that Dave Gallaher told me specifically that BASFA does not have a building fund. But that was a long time ago, and I now strongly suspect that I am misremembering. All this means, however, is that when BASFS is ready to stop using canards to enable its hedonism, BASFA won’t have to establish a "building fund", it will just have to start significantly adding to it.
More importantly, however, Cheryl seems to be saying that Kevin Standlee took a WorldCon debt upon himself. I did not know this, and I do not think that it should stand. BASFA should work to pay Kevin his money back before it ever OKs another "party jar". Every WorldCon bid committee should work to pay Kevin his money back; all fandom should work to pay Kevin his money back. That would be the mature thing to do!
I like Cheryl quite a lot, and I enjoy reading her blog everyday. I admire and respect Cheryl’s skills. I can’t emphasize that enough. I love that Cheryl comes to BASFA whenever she can! Nonetheless, I think that, all falsehoods aside, a BASFA clubhouse is an attainable goal if BASFA wanted it to be. I am alone in this opinion. Cheryl has her finger on the pulse of the BASFA. She stands with the majority and echoes their attitude back at them. And so, no clubhouse.
I want to continue to attend BASFA. So, at BASFA, about this particular subject, I will keep my mouth shut.
---Pip R. Lagenta